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Spencer Davis, ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ rock star, dead at 81

Spencer Davis Group members smile for a photo in 1966.
The Spencer Davis Group in 1966, clockwise from top left: Muff Winwood, Pete York, Steve Winwood and Spencer Davis.
(Associated Press)

Spencer Davis, a British guitarist and bandleader whose eponymous rock group had 1960s hits including “Gimme Some Lovin’” and “I’m a Man,” has died while being treated for pneumonia.

Davis’ agent, Bob Birk, said Tuesday that he died in a hospital. He didn’t give a location, but British media reported that Davis lived in Los Angeles. Davis was 81.

Born in Swansea, Wales, in 1939, Davis began working as a musician while he was a student at the University of Birmingham.

Influenced by the burgeoning British blues and skiffle scenes, he performed in bands with future stars including the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman and Christine Perfect — later Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie.

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He formed the Spencer Davis Group in 1963, with 15-year-old Steve Winwood on keyboards and guitar, his brother Muff Winwood on bass and Pete York on drums. The group went on to tour with the Rolling Stones and the Who.

With Steve Winwood as lead vocalist, the band had two No. 1 U.K. singles — “Keep On Running” in 1965 and “Somebody Help Me” in 1966 — and seven British top 40 hits before Winwood’s departure in 1967.

Winwood went on to form the psychedelic rock band Traffic and then joined forces with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker in the supergroup Blind Faith. He went on to have a long solo career.

“He was definitely a man with a vision, and one of the pioneers of the British invasion of America in the sixties,” Winwood said in a statement. “I never went to the U.S. with Spencer, but he later embraced America, and America embraced him”.

Davis released several solo albums without recapturing his 1960s fame, and later re-formed the Spencer Davis Group without the Winwood brothers.

He later joined Island Records as an executive and furthered the career of artists such as Bob Marley and Robert Palmer. He also signed the respected reggae band Third World.

In later years, he was regarded as an influential elder statesman of British rock.

Davis is survived by his partner, June, and three adult children.

A Times staff writer contributed to this report


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